Alzheimer’s Research UK responds to Labour Party pledge around dementia

Posted on 21st November 2019

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, has welcomed the Labour Party’s manifesto pledge to improve access to future treatments for conditions like dementia.

Dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK and costs the economy more than cancer and heart disease combined. Despite this, funding for dementia research lags far behind other health conditions. Currently, the UK government puts just £82.5m towards dementia research each year – which is around 0.3% of the annual economic cost of the condition. However, government funding for cancer research currently stands at £269 million. This is around 1.6% of cancer’s £16.4 billion annual cost to the UK.

The Labour Manifesto discusses the need for the NHS to be ‘at the forefront of genomics and cell therapies’ to bring about new treatments for health conditions, specifically naming dementia. It also sets out a pledge to ensure that new drugs can reach patients and that rewards and incentives in medical innovation match the areas of greatest health need.

Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, has been calling on all political parties to commit to spending 1% of the annual cost of dementia on research – investing £320 million a year by 2025 – to bring about life-changing treatments.

There are currently 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, and this number is set to increase to over one million by 2025. Despite this, there are currently no treatments to slow, stop or prevent the diseases that cause it.

You can also read our response to the Conservative Party Manifesto pledges around dementia research here.

What our expert said

Samantha Benham-Hermetz, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“We’re encouraged that the Labour Party has recognised the need to develop more effective treatments for dementia. The pledge to improve access to newly licensed drugs is a positive step, and it’s important that we carefully consider how this goal can be best achieved. We know that a new dementia treatment would bring significant practical and financial challenges for our health system, so it’s vital that the next government continues to work with Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Dementia Access Taskforce to address these challenges. It’s critical that the government, pharmaceutical industry and charities work together to ensure that people living with dementia can access the treatments they desperately need and deserve.

“At the same time, the next government must substantially increase investment in dementia research, so we can see new treatments as soon as possible. The Labour Party’s target of spending 3% of GDP on research and development by 2030 is a step in the right direction, and within this we would expect to see a meaningful commitment to dementia research. All political parties must commit to spending just 1% of the annual cost of dementia on research – investing £320m a year by 2025 – so we can stop one in three people born today from developing dementia in the future. We would urge whoever forms the next government to make dementia a priority, so we can bring about life-changing treatments and make them available to people without delay.”

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